Design-Build Step #3 – Concept Development and Price Proposal

My past commentary on the design-build process started with the feasibility study, to determine whether a project is viable, followed by the owner’s statement of requirements in order to ensure smooth communication right from the start.

In this column, we’ll look at the third step in the design-build process: concept development and the price proposal.

With any design-build project, the statement of requirements sets the foundation for ensuring design meets the owner’s needs. This includes the highly creative process of concept development. Where design-build is exceptionally unique is that this concept development leads directly into a preliminary price proposal.

The price proposal is completed between the designer and the builder.

While not every design detail is specified on the drawings at these early design stages, some common assumptions can be made when it comes to, for example, drywall, painting, electrical and plumbing.

Where we don’t have detailed specifications, we create allowances within which the whole team can work.

This allows design-builders greater flexibility in targeting project budgets during the design process.

The most important role of the price proposal is to give the team a realistic understanding of what the project will cost – before the team has gone too far down the road of design and planning.

This system is a remedy for the failing design-bid-build method of construction where many owners discover, only after they have invested time and money into design, that they cannot afford the project.

In my experience, full understanding and participation in this stage of the design-build process is essential.

Design-build is about teamwork; that team includes the builder, the designer and the owner (you, the client!).

For team players and people who like collaborative work, design-build is a great approach!


Bethany Van Hecke is principal at Capstone Dwellings Design-Build, a boutique design and construction company in the Comox Valley. Capstone Dwellings is proud to welcome Steve Squires to the team – read about Steve at

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